It’s or Its?

Many essays have suffered because of the improper use of the apostrophe after the word It. Since this word is very common, it is possible to repeat the same mistake many times throughout the essay, thus hurting the grade.

Isn’t it about time your essays became free of this nasty little weed that grows without being planted? Let’s dive in and take care of it once and for all. I came up with this little explanation so that it would be impossible to forget.

First of all, let’s take a look at what a regular possessive looks like in English.

If a car belongs to Tom, this is Tom’s car. We use the apostrophe (‘) right after Tom, and add the ‘s.’ The car of Tom becomes Tom’s car.

Why? Because this is a possessive in English, which simply means that Tom possesses the car.

Now, why are students so often confused about how to use the It as a possessive? In other words, why do they so often misspell Its and write It’s instead?

Answer: Because it’s Different! That’s it!

Just think about it for a second. If the possessive of the word It were spelled the same way as the possessive of the other words in the English language, would people be confused about it? No! They would just write the apostrophe after the It and that would be correct. But it’s not. Why not? Because it’s spelled differently, that’s all.

So, if the correct way to use the possessive is the following:

Tom’s car. Car’s muffler. Muffler’s noise.

…then the spelling of It is simply different:

Its muffler. Its noise.

Do you see what I mean? If the spelling with the apostrophe were correct (it’s muffler; it’s noise), your essay wouldn’t suffer since there would be no confusion. But it is different. Just remember that, and you’ll never write “the dog wags it’s tail” ever again.

But when do you use It’s?

Simple: you use It’s when you combine two words – the words It and Is, or the word It and Has. So:

It is = It’s

It has = It’s.

Got it? Leave me a comment and let me know if this was helpful, will you? And don’t hesitate to ask a question.

Tutor Phil

Tutor Phil

Tutor Phil is an e-learning professional who helps adult learners finish their degrees by teaching them academic writing skills.

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